What's the best type of paint to use for painting bike frames, it's steel if that makes a difference?

I want to do a custom paint job and mix a few colours in a gradient effect. Should I use enamel paid, or an off the shelf car paint etc?

Also what paint should I use for an undercoat, a car primer paint ??

many thanks

  • Starter: Hardwearing/durable/abrasion resistant, waterproof, oilproof, and compatible with the frame materials. – Criggie Dec 4 at 17:49
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Basically any paint that could be used on a car will work on a steel bike frame.

The better the paint the more robust it will be. Two-part epoxy based paints or powder coating are probably your best bets, but require specialized equipment. I think there are epoxy paints that do not require curing in an oven but you still need a spray gun.

You can probably use aerosol can paint with a self etching primer, meticulous preparation and good technique.

  • appliance spray paint – Mazura Dec 4 at 22:35
  • 1
    @Mazura you should make that an answer and explain why you think it would work well for a bike. – Argenti Apparatus Dec 4 at 22:51
  • It's epoxy paint in a spray can; you don't need a gun. – Mazura Dec 5 at 21:28
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    @Mazura, Is it really epoxy though?. Two-part epoxy paint is mixed before spraying and then cures by a chemical process (often assisted by an oven). Anything that comes out of a spray can must dry by evaporation of a solvent. – Argenti Apparatus Dec 5 at 21:32
  • It says epoxy on the can but I'm not actually sure. Nevermind anyway, it says it's for interior only. However, if I had to choose an aerosol can that would still be it. But no matter what you use the absolute key is meticulous surface preparation. – Mazura Dec 5 at 23:34

Car paints will work fine, and car primers. There is one brand of paint that comes in rattle-cans and is specifically marketed for repainting bikes.

You could get a powdercoating shop to lay down a base coat--that would probably be inexpensive, and give you a durable protective layer under whatever paint you applied.

  • After the frame has been powder coated, threads, especially the bottom bracket, may need to be recut. – Carel Dec 5 at 8:55
  • Excellent point. Probably just chased, not recut, but I agree. – Adam Rice Dec 5 at 13:49
  • With proper masking, the threads inside the BB shell should be fine. Facing the shell, sure, but it would need to be a half-assed powdercoating job if you need to chase the threads. – Gabriel C. Dec 5 at 14:58

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